In the Clearing (Tracy Crosswhite #3), by Robert Dugoni

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Robert Dugoni, and Thomas & Mercer for providing me with a copy of this book, which allows me to provide you with this review.

Dugoni returns with the third novel in the Crosswhite series, taking a different spin from the previous series writing. While the team lands a homicide with a strong self-defence component, Detective Tracy Crosswhite finds herself lured to assist a friend who has been given a cold case by her late father. In the autumn of 1976, young Kimi Kanasket was walking home from her shift at the town diner, but never made it. The following morning her body turned up floating in the water, injuries consistent with a leap from a bridge. While the case seemed fairly airtight, Kimi’s family was never convinced. Pulling out the file and using all the technology at her disposal, Crosswhite is able to cobble together a narrative that offers a different story than that told forty years before. However, with a stranger poking around town, locals are less than interested in bearing their souls. With the town set to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the high school football team’s state championship, Crosswhite tries dredging up something far less palatable. The deeper Crosswhite investigates, the more disturbing the information. In this stunning thriller, Dugoni forces the reader to explore how decades-old secrets can be the worst to let fester. A wonderful piece for fans, new and old alike.

Having been a fan of Robert Dugoni and his work for a long while, I was pleased to see this novel that seeks to push outside the box. Juggling not only two narratives, 1976 and 2016, but also two cases progressing simultaneously, the reader must grasp all that is taking place, as well as the changes that forty years has on evidence, witness recollections, and vendettas. With a wonderful narrative and thorough collection of characters, Dugoni is able to offer this new approach to his Tracy Crosswhite series, advancing the core backstories and offering new directions to those with whom the reader is well-versed. While things did come to a head by the end, it took until the last handful of chapters to realise that both cases (Kanasket and Collins) do resolve themselves and the latter did not act as a decorative backdrop to keep the other characters busy while Crosswhite delves out on her own.

Kudos, Mr. Dugoni for this wonderful story that had been intrigued throughout. I can only hope that there is more Tracy Crosswhite to come.